Social media and influencer culture affects almost every decision the modern consumer makes—including decisions about their health care. According to a WEGO Health study published in 2017, 87 percent of patients ask their physician about a certain medication if they first learned about it through a patient influencer.

At the same time, the WEGO Health study found that patient influencers themselves also rely on social media to make their own health decisions. WEGO Health surveyed 412 patient influencers across various chronic, complex, and rare health conditions in the U.S., and, according to the study:

- Nine out of 10 patient influencers say that online communities play an important role in their health decisions
- Nearly half say online communities play a “very” or “extremely important” role
- 87 percent say social media is critical to the future of the patient communities
- And 88 percent of patient influencers have shared a medication experience on social media; nearly seven in 10 have shared both a positive and negative experience

However, many patient influencers also expressed a growing distrust for Facebook, which has been their most popularly used social media channel. WEGO Health reports that many patient influencers are turning to private Facebook groups or direct messaging, in place of public posting.

This study seems to suggest that health companies can benefit from engaging with their customers online. WEGO Health wrote, “As we learned in 2017 with our Behavioral Intent Study, their best hope, at least for now, may be in working in close collaboration with patient influencers—the leaders in patient communities who have earned the trust of their peers, and have the followers to prove it.”

WEGO Health is a mission-driven company connecting health care with the experience, skills and insights of Patient Leaders. The company’s network collaborates with start-ups, life sciences companies, non-profits, agencies, government and many types of organizations across health care.